Blaze scorches five acres

Melbourne home sustains $6,000 damage

By Lourdes Briz

MELBOURNE -- The Knights and two friends were out on their back porch, enjoying the afternoon with some pre-dinner cocktails and appetizers when Dolly Doyle smelled smoke.

Their Thanksgiving dinner was postponed for several hours while firefighters fought a blaze that ended up charring about five acres of pine and palmetto scrub, endangering nine homes and causing an estimated $6,000 damage to the Knight home.

"I was scared to death," said Judy Knight. "The flames were licking at the windows."

She said she didn't know if she should run out the door with her two dogs Kasey and Oliver. The canines were not hurt.

Brevard County Fire-Rescue received the call about a fire in the Windover Farms area in Melbourne at 12:27 p.m.

Eight fire-trucks and four all-terrain trucks responded to the fire, which took about two hours to contain, said Orlando Dominguez, spokesman for Brevard County Fire Rescue.

No one was evacuated, but dozens of people watched as firefighters battled to protect their homes. Some, like Ken Knight, brought out their own garden hoses and tried to put out small fires caused by embers.

The Melbourne Fire Department and Florida Division of Forestry also assisted in the battle, which at its peak involved 40 firefighters.

"It was a hard fire," said Brevard County Fire-Rescue District Chief Mark Lighthill. "There was 15-year growth in there."

The cause of the fire was not determined Thursday, but Lighthill said it appeared suspicious.

The fire marshal likely will investigate it today, he said.

The Knights weren't the only ones who had their dinner plans postponed.

Lighthill said his station was planning to eat together at 12:30 p.m.

"Each station has their own dinner plans," he said. "Almost all stations cook turkeys and their families come over."

But as they were getting ready to eat, the call came in.

"It's not new for us. We do this all the time," he said, adding that the food was still waiting for them at the station.

Families in the Windover Farms area offered the firefighters pumpkin pie and drinks.

"We're lucky," Judy said, after the fire was put out. "Extremely lucky. It ended up being a very good Thanksgiving."